His Mercies Are New Every Year...Even Every Decade!

I always get so excited at the beginning of a new year. And this time around, it's a new decade! Some people look at the new year/decade as the end of an old one. And depending on what kind of year the previous one was probably establishes how excited you are about the old year ending. But a new year, and a new decade mean the beginning of brand new ones, with brand new opportunities. It means fresh expectations. I also see the new year as presenting opportunities to succeed where we may have failed. The new year and decade are like a new day. The Bible says God's mercies are new every single morning. That's one in your favor!  Each day brings with it new opportunities to succeed at serving God. Your success today is not determined by your failures from yesterday. Yes, we must learn from our failures and improve from our failures. But God's rich mercies erase our short-comings in His own eyes. It's the same way with a new year and decade. 2020 brings with it many God-given opportunities for you and me! We don't know exactly what the year holds for us. Only God does. But we can look at 2020 with fresh expectations, filled with opportunities to do better. I just thank God for a new year and again, a new decade. As I said before, I get so excited when a new year full of opportunities arrives.

What are you expecting this year? What are you expecting for the new decade? What will be your part in making it happen? How much of it are you willing to put in God's hands? Where did you fail (or simply not succeed) last year? A fresh, new year will present to you opportunities to succeed. His mercies are new every year!

Join with me in launching into 2020 with fresh expectations for the new year and decade. Give this new year over to God at the very beginning. Make a commitment to Him to trust Him in everything...yet to do your part in basing your attitude on His Word. Make a fresh commitment to stand firm on His principles through the victories and the challenges. Make that commitment to Him and share it with a trusted friend to  launch forth into the God-given vision you've been sitting on for too long. It's time!  It's a New Year! It's a brand new decade!

Stay Out Of The Lazy River!

The Bible speaks of gates and doors. There are narrow gates and wide gates. There is a narrow door according to Jesus. So what's the deal with gates and doors? Well, actually in many instances, a gate or door indicates the point (second) you and I leave this life, and enter into eternity. Once we go through the gate/door...this life is done!

Here's a great example from the Scripture: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7: 13-14) This is a very popular passage that many people use to encourage followers of Jesus to "walk the straight and narrow", while on the earth. But I am convinced there is much more than we've been taught about this passage!

Jesus is referring to two gates. One is wide and one is narrow. These two gates represent the point at which which we leave this life. There are also two "ways" to reach each gate: The "broad" way and the "narrow" way. The broad way leads to the wide gate that opens to eternal destruction. The narrow way leads to the small gate that leads to eternal life with Jesus. You determine which path you take by the way you live your life here on earth: Either for Jesus (narrow way), or for the world (broad way).

Jesus said that the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many people enter that gate. This is the way of the world. It's so easy to go the broad way that leads to the wide gate. Why? Because this way is the flow of the world. It kind of reminds me of those Lazy Rivers that flow throughout a water park. You know, you just hop up on your float and meander all through the park with absolutely no effort. The current of the Lazy River does all the work. Now certainly, the Lazy River is not evil. I just want to use it as an example. While our children experienced the thrill of all the different water rides, Connie and I effortlessly floated around the park on the Lazy River. Many Christians are doing the same. They're flowing with the world, making no effort to go upstream in a world that flows downstream. This is dangerous because the broad way will take anyone to the wide gate that leads to eternal destruction. Once a person enters through the wide gate, it's too late. More about that shortly.

There were a few times while in the Lazy River I tried to paddle upstream with my arms and hands (just for the heck of it), against the current. I had to paddle much harder and faster, hardly moving at all. It was much easier to simply let go, relax, and let the current determine my destiny.

If you refer to yourself as a follower of Christ, understand that the heaven's flow for you is exactly opposite from the world's flow. The world's way, the broad way, is easier. But this way leads to the wide gate that opens to destruction. Jesus said many people will enter through this gate. Once you enter through that gate, it closes and this life is over. The narrow way is the hard way. It is against the flow of this world. But this way leads to the small gate that opens to eternal life. Jesus didn't say few people will enter this gate. He said few people will find this gate. It takes seeking first God's kingdom in this life, which is taking the narrow way, that causes you to find the narrow gate. When you enter this gate, you begin an eternity of pure glory in the presence of Jesus forever!

So how do I know that these gates (narrow and broad) indicate the end of our life? Check this out: Jesus said, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luke 13: 24). The question is why would anyone seek to enter the narrow door and not be able to enter in? Because at that point it is too late! "Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' "Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'  "In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out." (Luke 13: 25-28) I know this sounds tough, but it's true.

There will come a time (at the end of our lives) when the way we've walked, broad or narrow, will lead us to either the wide or narrow gate. At that point we won't have the privilege of choosing which gate to enter through. The life we have lived will determine which gate we go through: either wide or small. Once we enter, according to the above Scripture passage, the Master will shut the door. When the door/gate closes that's it. We will experience eternal life or eternal destruction. Some will be extremely shocked over their destination.

Understand this: Salvation is much more than a 20-second sinner's prayer. It is much more than fire insurance. Salvation is the point at which you believe and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the point at which you surrender your whole life to Jesus. Salvation is the point at which you begin an on-going, ever-growing relationship with Jesus for the rest of your time on this planet. It is this relationship, born out of the regeneration of your spirit, that enables you to walk the narrow way that leads to the gate through which you enter into eternal life with Jesus.

Jesus said "Strive to enter through the narrow door." The word "strive" means to struggle. It means literally "to compete for a prize". This word "strive" also means "To contend with an adversary; to fight or labor fervently." It takes effort to go the narrow way that leads to the narrow gate that leads to life! "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

The narrow way and the small gate are not the easy way. But they lead to life eternal in the presence of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is waking up His people in these current times. People are waking up to the reality that knowing Jesus is serving Jesus, in every way, 24 X 7, 365 days a year...for the rest of our lives!

The great news is that serving Jesus is the most powerful, most supernatural, and by far the most glorious life one could ever live. Serving Jesus brings heaven to earth to empower follower of Jesus to do what Jesus did; to say what Jesus said; and to go were Jesus is!

(Please e-mail me for prayer! Thanks! Steve Hutto)
 
37654EB: Growing True Disciples: New Strategies for Producing Genuine Followers of Christ - eBook Growing True Disciples: New Strategies for Producing Genuine Followers of Christ - eBook
By George Barna

Where's The Fire?

A few years ago I was involved in leading worship for our church's mid-week service. The church was located in Macon, GA. A typical mid-week service would consist of some praise and worship (3 or 4 songs), a short teaching, and prayer. The service was shorter than our weekend services.

This particular Wednesday night there was an unusually strong anointing on the worship. As as matter of fact, the Holy Spirit led us into a sweet time of spontaneous worship for a longer-than-usual time. It was some of the most anointed worship I've ever experienced. You could feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit's manifested presence in the room. You could see His presence on the faces of almost everyone in the room. There were only 3 musicians involved in our worship for that particular mid-week service: A drummer, a bass player, and myself on the keyboard. Connie (my beautiful wife) was on the platform with me, along with a couple of other singers. Heaven came down in our sanctuary that night! It was so sweet.

Things got a little quieter during the spontaneous worship. It was as if we were suspended between earth and the throne of God. Suddenly two firemen, decked out in full fire-fighting gear, and each wielding an ax, burst through the swinging doors at the rear of the sanctuary. One of them said, "Where's the fire?" I said, "What fire?" He said, "Your fire sensors are sending signals to our control center that there is a raging fire here in your church!" At that point the two firemen searched the building (including the attic) for a fire. They came back into the sanctuary and said, "We found NO fire." So the two firemen, a little embarrassed and a bit confused sort of backed out the two swinging doors and left. As soon as they left, the place erupted in praise, worship, and applause to God! We knew what was really going on. There was in fact a fire in the house! It was the fire of God! Those fire sensors knew something was going on, and simply notified the fire department!

God made it evident that night that the Holy Spirit wants to manifest His fire in our midst. John the Baptist said, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Underline added.) (Matthew 3:11) And even when the worship is so incredible, He wants us to know that it effects people and things (like smoke and fire sensors). He also illustrated to us that when the worship goes up, His glory and fire come down. O how that can change lives! So my first question is...where is the fire?

Many have become so engrossed in efforts to be professional, polished, and perfectly timed that our gatherings are missing the fire of God. More money and energy is invested in production and presentation than preparing for God's presence in our midst. What would you do worship leader, pastor, if Holy Spirit fire broke out and interrupted your service this Sunday? Would you fan the flames, or would you seek to extinguish the fire? Questions we should all ask ourselves.

It's very evident that revival is needed in the body of Christ. Because as the church goes, so goes the condition of our nation. But there will be no revival unless the fire falls! It's not in organization and planning. It's not in creating the perfect presentation. It's not in being relevant to the culture. It's simply in the anointing. The anointing is God's supernatural enabling poured out on folks who are hungry and thirsty for the realm beyond mediocrity.

Just a couple of questions more. Are you willing to rearrange EVERYTHING for the sake of the fire of the Holy Spirit? And most important, are you willing to become the fuel for His fire? Because that's where the fire is!

The Stage Is Set

It is very easy nowadays to get discouraged over all that's happening in our nation, and even the world. Never before in my lifetime (and that's quite a few years) have I seen as much division in our land as today. Politics has infiltrated every area of American life. Everything is about political correctness. I've always wondered, who decides what is politically correct or incorrect? It's always changing and it's always dividing!

There was a time when America's pastimes were physical realms to which we could escape, at least for a season, simply to get our minds off the hardness of the real world we live in. The sports realm for example, has become another platform from which average American folk are targeted with political agenda. Likewise, Hollywood has moved from the entertainment realm to being a giant political propaganda machine. Hollywood has its own political agenda, and those actors who disagree with this agenda are black-balled and black-listed, having their careers destroyed forever!

And then there is the mainstream news media. I remember when news was the news, and journalism was professional and honorable. If it was happening, anywhere in the world, that's what you heard or saw on the news. Unfortunately, the mainstream news media has also become a political propaganda machine. It no longer reports what's happening. Instead, they report what they want you to hear, the way they want you to hear it. Sadly, most people believe what they hear. The mainstream news media has a political agenda. They hurl forth lies and twist the truth in a focused effort to get you and me to buy into it! It's a form of control and manipulation to bring their political agenda into force and again, it's all based on lies.

There is not a lot to be excited about in our world today, unless you are a follower of Jesus Christ with an ear to the ground! Am I crazy? Maybe, but only to those who do not or cannot see the signs of the times. I believe we are on the verge of the greatest revival of all times.

The great revivals and awakenings of the past were born out of the toughest of times; times which seemed to offer no hope at all. But in the midst of those hard times, the Spirit of God stirred the hearts of certain people to an unavoidable restlessness. The restlessness was over the weak condition of the church, and the degradation of a nation. It burdened them to stand in the gap for cities and nations. As they prayed, the burden intensified and eventually the fire of God fell on people! Fresh fire! It spread just like a natural wildfire.

Because the Bible says "In the last days difficult times will come", many Christians have become passive, assuming it is too late to make a stand in prayer. (See 2 Timothy 3:1) There's no doubt difficult and perilous times have come, and they will only get worse. But listen to what Paul tells Timothy later in the same chapter. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." The only reason God would see to it that we are adequately prepared for every good work is because also in the last days, we will see the greatest outpouring ever!

Let me ask you a few questions. Are you annoyed over some of the events of our day? Have you noticed how far we've fallen as a nation, provided you've lived long enough to see it? Have you noticed how powerless the church is as a whole? Do you feel like the darkness is overtaking the light of the Gospel? Can you see how politics, legislation, and protest are not making the world a better place? Instead the world (and the church) is being divided, right down the middle. Here is the answer: Only through an outpouring of the Holy Spirit can Jesus change things. Again, every great outpouring of the past was born out of prayer, from the midst of what looked like hopelessness. But it wasn't! Men and women were stirred to pray until the fire came.

Let me say to you follower of Jesus, the current time, as bad as it may seem, is NOT the time to back down. It is NOT the time to be passive. NOW is the time to pray and intercede for an outpouring! Another thing, follower of Jesus: If you're not yet stirred, stay seated and be passive. But if you are stirred, stand up and pray! Pray until the fire falls. Don't just pray for Uncle Do-drop's Rheumatism. Pray for hearts to change as God moves by His Spirit. Pray for your enemies. Pray for those in authority, even if you don't agree with them politically.

And finally, understand that prayer alone won't change things. But fervent, prevailing prayer will cause the fire to fall and consume the masses with God's irresistible love. That my friend, is what will change nations! Even now, the stage is set for the greatest outpouring ever!

God Is For You!

"If God is for us, then who is against us?" Paul may grammatically be asking a question in Romans 8:31, but the truth is, he is actually making a very strong, factual statement. "God IS for us, so no one can be against us!" Here's another way to say it: "God is for us, so nothing else matters!" When you get this deep down in your spirit, something happens. You begin to understand just how significant you are to Him! And, my friend, nothing will ever change that!

During one of my visits to India I remember taking a taxi to the airport one evening to fly back to the States. We were traveling through the city of Hyderabad, making our way to the airport. The streets of the city were extremely crowded with people. This is the norm for the cities of India. Not only were there many people, but the streets were crowded with all sorts of vehicles such as bicycles, auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, buses, cars, tractors, and man-powered rickshaws.

At one point traffic came to a stand-still. As we were waiting for the traffic to begin moving again, I happened to glance over to the left side of the street and see a little elderly lady sitting on the curb. She looked frail and at the same time hardened. She was an untouchable. By cultural standards, she had absolutely no significance in society. She obviously was homeless, and about to settle down on the street for the night.

I thought to myself, "If this little lady died on the streets tonight in this vast city, no one would even know it - no one!" Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to me, "I would!" He showed me that this poor, frail, untouchable lady was as significant to Him as any human being that has ever lived. He showed me that before she was even conceived, He had a plan for her. If she had been the only human on earth, Jesus still would have come and died for her. Listen carefully, you are just as significant! How do I know this? Because the Bible declares that God is for you! God is NOT against you. People can be against you. The world can be against you. Even circumstances can be formed against you. But if God is for you (and He is), nothing else matters.

According to Romans 8:29-30 your ARE foreknown and predestined to become conformed to the image of His very own Son, Jesus Christ! As He is...so are you in this world! (See 1 John 4:17) Romans 8:29-30 goes on to say that not only are you predestined, you are called, justified, and glorified!

He loves you with an everlasting love, even when you don't know it. And the greatest thing that could happen to you, me, or any of us is discovering that love. Because God loves you so much, nothing else matters! Not what they say. Not what people do. Not whether or not they receive you or accept you. His love is first and foremost all that matters. When you receive His love, then, and only then can you love others, even when they don't love you!

What are you facing at this moment in your life? What is moving against you? It is not nearly as significant as you think. Why? Because God is for you, not against you! Right now start dwelling on who and what God is in your life. He is Savior, the God of all creation, and, He is for you, not against you! If He is for you (and again, He is), then nothing else is significant. Nothing else matters! That's the truth.

Don't Rush Them In, And Rush Them Out! (Part 1)

Years ago I was extremely blessed with an all-expenses paid trip to Saudi Arabia for two months! The whole thing was courtesy of the United States Air Force! The truth is that this assignment literally changed my life!

We worked 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week. We enjoyed one day off per week. Shortly after I arrived, I discovered that an international worship service was held just outside the city of Riyadh, not too far from the Hotel in which we stayed. The really, really neat thing was that this service was held on the very same day of my assigned day off!

The service was held in someone's apartment, in a large company compound. In Saudi Arabia at the time there were large living compounds established by the various oil and airline companies. These compounds were like small towns that housed various company employees. People from all over the world lived in these compounds. As a result, the worship service was truly an international meeting. I met people from India, Pakistan, Britain, Germany, the U.S., and other nations of the world. The service was conducted in English, but everyone spoke with an accent. It was very cool! Again, this was in someone's rather large apartment.

We arrived at our first service in time to meet some new friends and hang out with them. But it was the actual service that changed my life.

When the service started, the leader of the group broke out into song while playing the acoustic guitar. That was it. No more singers nor musicians. The worship was amazing. Just the sight and sound of all these folks from different parts of the planet stirred my heart immensely. The people sang and sang and sang. They worshiped openly. There was no rush to "get through the music" to the rest of the service. There were times when we were simply silent before the Lord. Words of prophecy came forth. Gifts of the Holy Spirit were manifested. Truly it was a life-changing experience for me.

As I was pondering this experience early this morning something significant occurred to me: When people are rushed in, and rushed out, they never experience the life-changing presence of the Holy Spirit. This produces a gathering that is mostly devoid of His presence. We all, out of love for the God who has forgiven us, want to honor Him, bless Him, and do what we can for Him. I believe almost every truly born again believer feels this way. But we must realize that without His tangible presence, the gathering is mostly man-made. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to come into our midst and glorify Jesus. So in our planning, we must plan for Him. In our rehearsals we must plan for Him. In our preaching, we must plan for the presence of the Holy Spirit! Jesus said, "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:14, Underline added.)

I do believe we should be somewhat time conscious in planning and conducting our services. But we should be more Holy Spirit conscious, so that when He desires to move spontaneously we have given Him the place to do so. Never forget, He can do more in just a few seconds when allowed, than we could ever plan or calculate to do in our concrete time-slots!

This experience occurred a good many years ago. But, as I said, it changed my life. As a result of that one single experience, God led me to become a worship leader, psalmist, pastor, teacher, and missionary pastor. More on that in a later post!

Next, I will talk about making a place for Him. He always comes where He is welcomed, and that is the difference.

God Is Good!

I take a brief look at the fact, and the truth that God is good. God's forgiveness and His abundant lovingkindness comes from His goodness! And anyone who calls upon Him will experience His goodness, forgiveness, and His abundant lovingkindness. I pray that you are thoroughly encouraged by this short teaching! Blessings to you and yours!


Being Different Makes The Difference

As I begin this post let me say that absolutely no one is perfect. No one is flawless. I am so grateful that we don't have to be flawless to be in right standing with God. So as you read this, please understand that this post is not about NOT making mistakes. It is not about not measuring up. It's simply about following Jesus as a disciple of His, and being different.

Understanding that we are not perfect, we must also grasp that as Christians we are very different. First, we are different from the way we were. And second, we are very different from the world. One who is a follower of Jesus is different. The Spirit of God in us makes us different. As a matter of fact, one who claims to be a Christian and is not different may not be a true follower of Jesus. It's that simple. In order to be a follower of Jesus one must be different.

When I completely turned my life over to Jesus He made me  different. I knew it. I acted differently. I began to talk differently. I began to live differently. And even though I was convinced I was different, those around me also clearly saw the difference. My family witnessed the change. My friends witnessed that I was different. I was different from the world. I lost some of my friends, however God gave me new friends that were different from the world too! The flow of my life was different from the world. Did you catch the keyword there: different!

I see a world full of Believers coerced by the world to live like the world. So many Believers are addicted to entertainment. Entertainment in itself is not bad. It's the addiction that concerns me. A Christian life addicted to entertainment is numb to the Spirit of God, and thus numb to deep spiritual needs.

What I don't see are generations being raised up to be sold out to Jesus Christ. I don't see many Christian parents who require their children (from a very early age) to read, study, memorize, and quote the Scripture; to pray fervently to God, regardless of their youth. To be sold out to Jesus is to be different. Being different will impact our world...one life at a time. Listen to Jesus. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) Following Jesus diligently makes us different. One who denies self is different from one who lives for self (and  the world).

Jesus has done His part. He came and bore ALL of our sins. He came and removed our guilt. When we truly choose to surrender our lives to Him, we become new creatures in Him. Our part is to embrace the difference, and follow hard after Him. It is impossible to change the world if we live for the world, and thus blend in to the world.

When people look at you, do they see someone who is different? Or do they see someone who is friendly with the world, but goes to church occasionally? When Jesus came, He was different. The way He came was different. His life was different. He didn't conform to the standards of religion and legalism. Instead of blending in with the world He testified against the world. He was different because He was from another world, not this one.

The truth is, if you are born again of the Spirit of God...you are different. You will know you are different. But it is your responsibility to embrace the difference. God's power is in the difference, not in the similarities to the world. Jesus went against the flow of this world. As a result, He changed the world. That is what He called you and me to do.

Our world has gone crazy in these last days. Jesus said, "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." (Matthew 12:24) This is so evident through all forms of news and social media. To stand up and live out loud for Jesus Christ today means your very existence screams out against the ways of the world. The Apostle Paul said, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2) You are the one whom God has chosen to reveal His will to the world you live in. And that happens only when you and I resist the flow of this world, and live for Him, no matter the cost! You can do it!



Where I Was, And What I Was Doing On September 11, 2001


On September 11th, 2001, two thousand, nine hundred and seventy-seven (2,977) people died as a result of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of flight 93. In addition, more than six thousand (6,000) were injured. This attack was the deadliest in all of world history.

We were in Fort Walton Beach, FL for the 2001 Evangel Fellowship International Fall Conference when 9/11 occurred. My son Jonathan, and Pastor G.R. Purushotham from India were with me. 

We arrived on a Monday afternoon to attend the opening service that evening. It was unusually hot on that September Day. Looking back, it felt like things were just not completely right; sort of like things were a bit out of alignment. It was hard to explain. But something was just not right. We attended the opening service that evening.

The next morning the three of us were partaking of the hotel's continental breakfast in the breakfast area. If I remember correctly, the TV was tuned to a sports channel and no one was really paying much attention to it. Suddenly a guest comes in very abruptly and shouts, "Turn to a news channel. A plane just crashed into one of the twin towers in New York City!" Someone changed the channel and it was true. It wasn't just a plane though, it was an airliner full of passengers! "What a tragic accident!" I thought. We were wondering (out loud) how an accident like that could even happen. Then the 2nd plane hit the other tower! I cannot explain the horrific feeling I had as reality quickly sank in. This wasn't an accident. It was a planned terrorist attack! The United States of America had been brutally assaulted! To be quite honest, it didn't seem real and it was very hard to process.

We went back to our rooms to watch the event unfold. We saw both of the towers collapse even before we went to the morning service of the conference. So much was going on at the time. The Pentagon was attacked. Flight 93 (a fourth aircraft) disappeared off radar and went down in Pennsylvania. The part that was hard to fathom was the number people that would lose their lives that day. Later the morning meeting of the conference would be transformed into a solemn assembly in which we cried to God for the help of our nation and the world.

Soon after turning the TV channel and seeing the second tower hit, I called Connie (my wife) just to make sure all was well at home. We were several hours apart and I was not comfortable at all being that far away. She was fine, but rattled like the rest of the free world. We prayed together and we agreed that I would take the afternoon to gas up our van. Gas was going fast because ALL flights in the USA were now grounded indefinitely. We would head home early the very next morning. We cut the conference short by one day.

September the 11th, 2001 is a day we must NEVER forget! More people lost their lives on 9/11 than on December 7th, 1941 in the attack on Pearl Harbor. On 9/11 the United States of America would be changed forever.

Today marks eighteen years since that horrible terrorist attack. Connie and I have fifteen Grandchildren today, and only one of them was alive during 9/11. This Grandchild was a year and a half old and remembers nothing about that day. This is why we who lived through it must never forget! In addition, we must inform subsequent generations of what happened on 9/11/01, and how it changed America and the world.

If you don't do anything else on this day, at least pray for the surviving families. Pray that this will never happen again. And above all, pray that we NEVER forget.

Let God Fight Your Battle!

Jesus said (more than once), "With God, all things are possible." But He didn't say, "All things are easy"! As a matter of fact, many of the things He makes possible for us are NOT easy at all! Sometimes we actually give up, or don't even pursue the things we know are humanly impossible. Instead of believing they are possible, we are convinced they are impossible! Never forget - the impossible only becomes possible when we allow God to become involved in our lives, and to fight our battles.

Jesus said, referring to man entering the Kingdom of God, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27) (Bold added.) Notice Jesus didn't say that all things are possible for God. He said all things are possible with God. Of course, God can do anything by Himself, but He desires be involved with us. He wants to be strong and mighty...through you and me!

II Chronicles Chapter 20; Jehoshaphat was king of Judah.  Israel was split into two nations, one of which had become Judah. King Jehoshaphat gets word of a massive multi-force invasion of Judah about to take place. Complete annihilation was imminent. Judah's total destruction cannot be humanly avoided. The Bible says Jehoshaphat was afraid, and turned his attention to seek the Lord. He was a godly king and knew the power of His God. He also knew that without God's supernatural intervention Judah was doomed.

If you're like me, quite often you are faced with what seem to be impossible situations. Perhaps even right now you are in a situation that seems helpless. And the truth is, it probably is helpless unless God intervenes. Jehoshaphat turned his attention to seek the Lord. He came to the reality that he must have God's supernatural intervention, and that the salvation of Judah was humanly impossible. Jehoshaphat called together all of Judah and proclaimed a time of nationally seeking God.  We need this in our nation! In this prayer he prayed what I call the prayer of faith. The prayer of faith is a prayer with substance. The substance is the Word of God. For instance, "God...have You not said...?" Or, "God...did You not promise? Not that God needed to be reminded of what He had said, but this kind of prayer is a prayer of faith and trust in Him.

The Apostle Paul said, "We walk by faith and not by the way things appear." This is what King Jehoshaphat was doing. Instead of responding to the circumstances and the way it appeared, he was standing on God's promises made to Israel and Judah. Today for you and me it is standing on what God has said in His Word. That's why it is so important to know God's Word. A prayer of faith (which moves God) is impossible without praying His own words! "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

As King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah sought God, He began to move by speaking! When we pray God's Word He speaks to us! God spoke to Judah by telling them He would fight their battle! Humanly it was impossible, but with God all things are possible! As a matter of fact God emphasized to Judah that the battle was His, not theirs. Sometimes we fight battles that don't belong to us! They belong to Him! He does it better! As for Judah, God instructed them to station themselves in a place where they were allowed to see the battle fought and won for them! It took 3 whole days for Judah to harvest the spoils from a victory they didn't even have to fight! The enemy threatened, Judah sought God, He spoke, fought, and won the battle. He provided more than enough through a battle that was humanly impossible to win!

This incident is recorded in the Bible to encourage you and me. The principles are the same for us. When the enemy invades, do not fear! Turn your attention to seek God. Pray His Word in the prayer of faith. He will speak, act, and provide on your behalf!  WITH GOD, all things are possible!

How's The Fishing?

As a child growing up in Mississippi our family spent many of our vacations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We usually stayed a week at a time at the beautiful Buena Vista Motel. The Buena Vista was located right by the Gulf and had a really large pool with an island in the middle! When we were at the motel, and not sleeping, I was in the pool - day or night! Those are some very special memories for me!

One particular year we went fishing at a peculiar place. It was an indoor fishing arena located off the Pop's Ferry Causeway. The big square building was pretty much like a floating dock on the water, except it was completely enclosed and air conditioned! Inside the building there were squares about 10 by 20 ft. in area. These square areas were equipped with metal banisters to keep you from falling in the water! You simply dropped your baited hook over the railings and into the water. As we walked into the fishing arena, I thought, "This will revolutionize all fishing!" Actually I don't remember catching much, but the air was cool and the soft drinks hit the spot! It's just one of those experiences I'll never forget!

It seemed like a novel idea, but as I said, you really didn't catch much. The reason is because to catch good, tasty fish...you must go where they are! You don't sit in one place and hope the fish will come to you. You try your best to find them. In Mark 1:17 Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Jesus "...went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil." (See Acts 10:38) Jesus didn't pitch a tent in a centrally located place and say, "Y'all come." He went about, and so did His followers!



Let's understand, not everyone needing Jesus will simply wander into our churches. Neither will they knock on our front doors at home. They're out there. We must go about. How do we do that? At work we're listening to the hearts of our coworkers. We're sensitive to their needs, and as the Holy Spirit leads us, we respond accordingly. We don't do this just at work, we do this everywhere. Why? Because the fish are everywhere!

I'm grateful for the opportunities the Holy Spirit has given me to share Jesus. I'm not pushy, but I do listen carefully. I don't just listen to people, I also listen for the Holy Spirit to prompt me to a response. When I do respond, it's amazing how He is involved! Remember, people are everywhere, not just in church. But the church is also everywhere, not just in a building!

So where will you be today? Work? School? Shopping? On vacation? Go fishing! There is no greater fish-finder than the Holy Spirit. Just go about. Go about listening; not just to folks, but to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you about those folks! Then simply do what He says.

970111: Overcomer DVD Bible Study Kit Overcomer DVD Bible Study Kit
By Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick

Many people feel they are less than who God says they are. We get our identity from our careers, our political positions, family roles in the family, and other things. This small group study uses clips from the film Overcomer to examine how we determine our identity and how we can find our true identity in Christ.
The Bible study is geared for adult groups to use prior to the movie or just after seeing the movie. The study includes clips from the movie.
The Overcomer Bible Study Kit has five sessions and includes:
  • one Bible Study Book
  • one DVD with a promotional video and five 2-4 minute video sessions
Session Topics:
  1. Who Are You?
  2. You Are Broken
  3. You Are Chosen
  4. You Surrender
  5. You Declare 

Chick-fil-a A Customer Service Icon

I consistently stand amazed at the customer service offered by Chick-fil-a. Is it any wonder the company gets more revenue per restaurant than any other food chain in the U.S., and it's only open 6 days a week! Just this morning I stopped in for a quick breakfast. Aside from hearing "It's my pleasure" every single time I said "Thank You"; as I walked to empty my tray a young lady with a rather large smile came up to me and said, "Let me do that for you." She took my tray and emptied it for me! My reaction naturally was, "Thank you!" Her response, "It's my pleasure. Have a great day!"

Having been in the customer service business for a number of years (retail sales, pastoring, and pitching Jesus out there), it always fires me up when I receive the special treatment! The truth is however, at most any Chick-fil-a restaurant, everyone gets the special treatment! The result is the success of the organization.

It amazes me how some folks get this and some don't. Listen carefully to this: The essence of great customer service is...great service! Everyone loves to be effectively served, if only for a short time. Great service makes people feel special. When people feel special, they come back for more! This is such a very simple concept. If you're like me (and most are), you don't want to go back to a place where you're nothing more than another number; and you seem to ruin someone's day for coming in. Here's another way of putting it. Folks flock back to a great experience, even if they have to pay a bit more. And just as many avoid places where their experience has been mediocre to just plain bad.

Connie and I attend a great church, St. Simons Community Church. It is a rather large church, and it is quite obvious the church is reaching many folks and impacting their lives. The truth is however, the church impacts nearly as many folks outside the church as those who attend weekly services. How's that happening? Through the practice of offering effective Scriptural service to its members and the local community. God blesses this. At the end of my post I want to show you how ALL effective service is Scripturally based.

Many church leaders wonder why their church hardly grows over time and others grow rapidly. The answer is simple. Some understand what Chick-fil-a understands. It is serving people where the rubber meets the road...and impacting their lives. Again, God blesses this.

The greatest example of incredible service was that of Jesus. He IS the greatest servant of all. Jesus laid aside His kingly privileges, He emptied Himself, became a bond-servant first to God, and humbled Himself into humanity, even to the point of dying for you and me on the cross.

Many churches practice the insanity concept: Doing the same thing - over and over - expecting different results. We call it beating a dead horse! There is only one result - death! If you want to impact people, you must learn to meet folks where they are. This means serving and meeting practical needs as well as spiritual needs. Jesus understood this as He spent 3 1/2 years training His disciples how to strike a balance between the two.

I'm reminded of the incident in the Bible in which Jesus fed 5,000 men. There were actually many more as He also included the women and children in this miracle. Jesus was not only concerned with the their spiritual needs, he was equally concerned with their physical needs. This event developed because Jesus withdrew with His disciples after learning of John the Baptist's beheading. They were looking for a bit of seclusion. Such a great number of people followed them however, that a very large crowd formed. Out of compassion Jesus was concerned that the people would faint from not eating for a long period of time. The desire to meet a physical need resulted in an incredible miracle taking place. Approximately 20,000 people were fed from 5 loaves of bread and a couple of fish! There the drive to meet a practical need produced the supernatural intervention of God's hand!

As promised I want to close with a passage of Scripture that illustrates the Scriptural foundation of excellent serving of one another. Out of the natural the supernatural occurs, impacting lives eternally.

(Philippians 2:1-8), "Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  


                    

Godly Mentors - The Cause Of Godly Change In My Life

When I was stationed in Germany back in the early 80's Connie and I were blessed to be fairly close to a Christian Servicemen's Center. The "Center" (as we called it) was located in Augsburg, Germany. It was a place, run by a civilian American Pastor and his wife. They were called center directors.

Jack and Dorothy Pittman, from North Carolina became the Center Directors a few months after our family arrived in Germany. Brother and Sister Pittman were such gifts to our family. They became our spiritual parents and spent a lot of time with us. One thing Brother Pittman used to say to me was that God was grooming me for the ministry. That was interesting terminology. I'd never heard that before. What he meant was, he could see God's call on our lives, and that He (God) was beginning to prepare us for ministry. If it had not been for the Pitman's, and our time spent with them over the period of about 2 1/2 years, we might not have seen or heard the call of God on our lives.

We've learned from being under such Godly people as Brother and Sister Pittman, Bishop Sam and Rheba Drye, and Pastors Larry and Sandra Linkous that Godly leadership is imperative for those who minister at all for Jesus.

During our wonderful training in Germany, through the Pitmans we recognized and received God's call to ministry. We returned to the States in 1983 as I was reasigned to Robins AFB, GA. During our time at Robins we began to attend Holy Spirit Harvest Church in Macon, GA. The Pastors and founders were Pastors Sam and Rheba Drye. We were  eager to become involved in ministry after being lay pastors of a local Servicemen's fellowship in Neu Ulm, Germany for about 2 years.

Connie and I volunteered for anything that was available! The Dryes also took an interest in us and spent a lot of time with us. In 1984, the year we started attending HSHC, I ushered, worked the call-in prayer line, and played as a musician on the worship team. At the end of 1984, during our church Christmas party, Pastor Sam approached me with a proposition. He asked me if I would be interested in becoming the church's business adminstrator when I exited the Air Force in 1985. I was blown away! HSHC was growing rapidly, and soon would need an admistrator who would also be the Associate Pastor to assist Pastors Sam and Rheba in the ministry of the church!

Let me insert here that Connie and I had just been faced with a very tough decision. We loved Germany so much that I had put in a request to return to Germany after I finished my assignment at Robins AFB, GA. One day (before Pastor Sam had approached me) I received orders to return to a different part of Germany, but nonetheless it was Germany. The only catch was... since I would have no time left at the end of my Robins AFB assignment, I would be required to re-up for 4 more years! We fasted and prayed. We both felt God was telling us to refuse Germany. We both agreed that it was God's will for us to take a giant leap of faith and exit the AF in about 1 year. Just days after we made our decision Pastor Sam approached us about the business administrator position! We accepted!

Altogether we mentored under Pastor Sam and Rheba Dry for about 8 1/2 years. During that time I was helped with my education among with many other things. For instance, we oversaw the singles for a year. We oversaw the young married couples for a year. We oversaw the youth ministry for about a year. I was also the Worship Pastor for about 2 years. Quite honestly, no amount of formal education could equal the mentoring, training, and preparation I received in the early years of our ministry.

Connie and I also owe a debt of gratitude to Pastors Larry and Sandra Linkous who took us under their wings when our first attempt at planting a church didn't succeed as we had hoped. The Linkous' were incredible mentors to us in the areas of encouragement and spiritual endurance. They always encouraged us to NOT lose heart in our doing of good! (See Galatians 6:9)

We've made some mistakes along the journey. Some were pretty big! Thanks to folks who never gave up on us, we're still at it today...even through the heartache we may have caused them. Now Connie and I have a heart and desire to mentor others. We've seen the call on others (especially our children) and have made ourselves available as mentors and encouragers.

Finally, if your life has been enhanced by those who have poured a bit of themselves into you, you are what you are because of their unselfishness. Now it's time for you to do the same. Make yourself available. Pour into others. Raise up those who will eagerly change the world for Jesus. Someone is waiting. 

      

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